Beyond Henry Louis Gates: Many Scholars Find Inspiration in Discrimination





Henry Louis Gates Jr. might never see eye to eye with Sgt. James Crowley over his highly publicized arrest last month, but the Harvard University professor has credited the Cambridge police officer for this much: inspiring him as a scholar.

In an interview with The Root, an online publication that he edits, Mr. Gates said he planned to draw upon his arrest as "a teaching experience," and he talked with PBS about producing a documentary about racial profiling.

Mr. Gates, director of Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, appears intent on joining other academics whose work is directly influenced by incidents in which they saw themselves as victims of discrimination.

A number of faculty members in fields such as ethnic studies, history, and sociology say such personal encounters guide their classroom discussions or help chart the direction of their scholarly endeavors. Many say the result has been some of their best work. But other professors warn that the strong emotions involved can weaken the quality of scholarship.



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